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Scouting Report: Leeds United (H)

Can Reading get their second win in 2018? Here’s all the information you need as Leeds come to town.

Leeds United v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

The manager

Leeds’ current manager is Paul Heckingbottom. The 40 year old has been at the club for only a few weeks having replaced the sacked Thomas Christiansen. This is only the second job that he has had since becoming a professional football manager.

Managerial history

Heckingbottom started his managerial career at Barnsley. When Danny Wilson was sacked, Heckingbottom was placed in temporary charge of first team affairs, before the Barnsley board decided to appoint Lee Johnson. Following Johnson’s departure to Bristol City, the former Tykes player was appointed Barnsley manager until the end of the 2015/16 season.

Despite lacking any previous managerial experience, Heckingbottom achieved so much in his time as Barnsley manager. He led his side to the final of the Checkatrade Trophy final where his Barnsley side defeated O****d 3-2 at Wembley, to win the club’s first trophy since 1912.

Another appearance at Wembley followed, this time in the League One play-off final where Barnsley beat Millwall 3-1 to win promotion to the Championship. This led to Heckingbottom earning a new 12 month rolling contract.

During his first season in the Championship, Heckingbottom did a superb job at keeping the Tykes in the division. At one point Barnsley were ninth, but having sold the likes of Sam Winnall and Connor Hourihane to Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa saw a slump in form for the team.

Heckingbottom’s achievements caught the eye of Leeds who made their move for their current boss, just days after he signed a new contract with Barnsley.

Style of play

Heckingbottom likes to play a mixture of passing and direct football, but also to press the opposition. This could cause problems for Reading, as they tend to struggle when teams press them high up the pitch.

In terms of formations expect Heckingbottom to deploy a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Top goalscorer

Leeds’ current leading goalscorer is Pierre-Michel Lasogga who has scored 10 goals in 23 appearances for the Whites. The striker is currently on loan at Leeds having completed a season long-loan move from Hamburger SV.

Derby County v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Club captain and current longest serving player

The Whites’ current captain and current longest serving player is Liam Cooper who has been at the club since completing a move from Chesterfield in 2014. Cooper has scored three goals in 119 appearances.

Played for both

Modou Barrow

Reading’s speedy winger had a loan spell at Leeds during the second half of last season. However, the Gambian failed to make an impact at the club making just five appearances for the club and scoring no goals.

Following his loan spell at Leeds, Barrow completed a move to Reading from Swansea for a rumoured fee of £1.5 million. He would go on to get the last laugh as he showed the Leeds fans what he is capable of by scoring the winner for Reading in the reverse fixture at Elland Road.

Key man

The key man that Reading fans will need to keep on eye on is Samu Saiz. Playing as an attacking mdfielder, his role is to provide creativity for the likes of Lasogga. He has arguably been Leeds’ best player this season with five goals and six assists in 25 Championship games.

During the reverse fixture at Elland Road, Saiz was a constant threat to the Reading defence with his technique and skill. He also has the abilty to keep the ball at his feet and run at defenders - this can be seen by the fact that the Spaniard has averaged 1.9 key passes per game and 2.5 dribbles per match.

Additionally, Saiz has averaged two shots per game which is the second best in this Leeds side, only Lasogga (2.8) has averaged more.

Likely line-up

Leeds manager Paul Heckingbottom could make changes following his side’s 3-0 defeat at home to Wolves. Captain Liam Cooper is likely to miss the game having been forced off after picking up an injury, while young goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell could keep his place after making some great saves to keep the score-line down.

Here’s how the Whites could line up (4-2-3-1).

Bailey Peacock-Farrell; Gaetano Beradi, Pontus Jansson, Matthew Pennington, Vurnon Anita; Kelvin Phillips, Adam Forshaw; Stuart Dallas, Samu Saiz, Pablo Hernandez; Pierre-Michel Lasogga.